Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

fair, a child of decay, that "sprung up in a night and will perish in a night.” The squirrel, agile with life and timidity, gambling round the root of an ancient beech, its base overgrown with the dewberry, (rubus cæsius,) blue with unsullied fruit, impeded in his frolic sports, half angry, darts up the silver bole, again to peep and wonder at the strange intruder on his haunts. The jay springs up, and, screaming, tells of danger to her brood; the noisy tribe repeat the call, are hushed, and leave us ; the loud laugh of the woodpecker, joyous and vacant ; the hammering of the nuthach (sitta europæa) cleaving its prize in the chink of some dry bough; the humble bee torpid on the disc of the purple thistle, just lifts a limb to pray forbearance of injury, to ask for peace and bid us

· Leave him, leave him, to repose'. The Author's residence, near the Severn, amid the fine scenery of the tract lying between Gloucester and Bristol, is highly favourable to such pursuits, and he has been diligent in improving the advantages of his situation. He has left untouched few subjects connected with natural history; and we can recommend his book as pure in sentiment, attractive in subject, and valuable in matter.

Art. VII.-1. The Forget me Not ; a Christmas, New Year's, and

Birth-day Present for MDCCCXXX. Edited by Frederick Shoberl.

pp. 418. 14 plates. Price 12s. in case. 2.- The Literary Souvenir for MDCCCXXX. Edited by Alaric A.

Watts. pp. 364. 12 plates. Price 12s. in silk. 3.-Friendship's Offering: a Literary Album, &c., for 1830. pp. 384.

13 plates. Price 12s. bound. 4.- The Amulet ; a Christian and Literary Remembrancer for 1830.

pp. 392. 12 plates. Price 12s. in silk. 5.- The Winter's Wreath for MDCCCXXX. A Collection of Origi

nal Contributions in prose and verse. pp. 384. 13 plates. Price

12s. in silk. 6.-The Iris ; a Literary and Religious Offering. Edited by the

Rev. Thomas Dale, M.A. Pp. 332. Il plates. Price 12s. in silk, 7.The New Year's Gift and Juvenile Souvenir. Edited by Mrs.

Alaric Watts. pp. 240. 11 plates. Price 8s. half-bound. 8.The Juvenile Forget me Not ; a Christmas and New Year's Gift,

or Birth-day Present for the year 1830. Edited by Mrs. S. C.

Hall. pp. 230. 11 plates and tail-piece. Price 8s. 9.-The Juvenile Keepsake. MDCCCXXX. Edited by Thomas

Roscoe. pp. xvi, 232. 8 plates. Price 8s. in paper, gilt edges. 10.--Ackermann's Juvenile Forget me Not. Edited by Frederick

Shoberl. pp. 274. 9 plates. Price 8s. in paper. WE had determined to look very grave upon the

Annuals of year,

and to submit their contents to a sober criticism,

We had resolved not to be dazzled by their silk attire and the lustre of their embellishments, but to examine their pretensions, unbiassed by fear or favour. Our reasons for this intention were chiefly two-fold ; first, the apprehension that the literary or better part of these seductive little volumes was becoming far too subordinate to the extrinsic and subsidiary, the mere dress and jewelry; and, secondly, the opinion, that, as presents to young persons more especially, the high-seasoned olio of tales and trifles, is of doubtful tendency. But the general character of these publications is now so well understood, that any observations of this nature would, perhaps, be regarded as alike cynical and superfluous, and our voice would be drowned in the soft clamour we should be in danger of exciting from the young and the fair. “ We are not made of stone." We have been young ourselves; and can fully enter into the delicious joy spread among a brighteyed groupe by the arrival of an assortment of these splendid little tomes as presents to the respective members of the circle,-the triumph with which each would bear off his own possession, and then the after pleasure of comparing and interchanging them. The idea of these juvenile Annuals was a happy one; for otherwise, the said arrival must have been kept secret from the younger ones, whose envy and impatience might be stirred, unless in very well regulated families, by the sight of so brilliant a possession in the hands of their seniors. Besides, we are warm friends to good old customs, such as the Weihnachts geschenke, which we are told still prevails throughout Germany, and the interchange of tokens of remembrance between distant friends. We are by no means willing that the honoured practice of Christmas bakshish, (vulg. dict. Christmas boxes,) obviously of Oriental origin, and concerning which we intend some day to write a dissertation for some one of these Amuals, -should be confined to the doling out of a few half crowns, shillings, and sixpences, to the watchman, postman, butcher's boy, and other such humble claimants who pester you on the 26th of December and the next few days ensuing. We know that the times are very bad, as they have been, to our certain knowledge, for the last fifty years; but still, we rejoice to think, that the public can afford to lay out some fifty thousand pounds a-year in this one article of literary luxury; and we are proud 100, that, in this sort of production, neither our continental neighbours nor the Americans can compete with us either as to price or quality.

We are credibly informed, that a very large quantity of these Forget me Nots, Souvenirs, Amulets, &c., find their way to foreign markets. And but for this widely extended demand, we can tell our readers, they could not have so cheap a bargain presented to them, as regards the beauty and cost of the embellishments. The low price at which these tasteful little volumes are brought out, is

VOL. II.N.S.

Y Y

really astonishing, as it is obvious that a very small profit upon each copy must remain, after the artists, the engravers, the writers, the editor, the printer, the stationer, and the binder have been paid. This consideration may weigh little with our readers, but it has great force with us, inducing us to look very leniently upon these publications.

And the obvious and increased pains that have been bestowed upon getting up the Annuals now before us, under the stimulus of excessive, and, we fear, injurious competition, would of itself have disarmed criticism of its severity, even had their contents been of less respectable merit. Of the prints, we shall speak hereafter, and merely remark, therefore, at present, that they are, upon the average, superior, both in interest and execution, to those of the preceding year. With regard to the literary merits of the several competitors, we are fortunately precluded from the delicate task of comparison, inasmuch as the names of pretty nearly the same writers occur in each of the volumes, and the editors appear to have made, in several instances, an amicable ivterchange of contributions. This is as it should be—emulation without jealousy; and we heartily wish that it may be rewarded with a general success, that shall leave no room for illnatured envy.

We trust that we have made out a strong case in favour of the claims of the respective editors to critical indulgence and public patronage. And if the contents of these publications are not altogether of that sterling, solid character that we grave reviewers might have wished, we must candidly avow our conviction, that as large a portion of the utile is mixed with the dulce as could well be admitted without spoiling the flavour to the general taste, and so endangering the sale of the article. We should, indeed, be sorry to think that these Annuals would usurp, in the library or on the table, the place of the perennials of our literature, or that the demand for our standard poets

and classic writers would be permanently trenched upon by these more attractive publications. But ot' such a result we have no apprehension. Let the artists, and engravers, and all others engaged in the decoration and composition of these elegant wares, make hay while the sun shines : we will not be the shadow of a cloud in their way.

We should not be surprised at finding that many persons, swayed by the natural fickleness of fashion, or actuated by the nil admirari" propensity incident to a languid temper, the patrician inaptitude to be easily pleased, or seized with a fit of economy, should, from these several causes, unite in pronouncing that, this year, there is a great falling off in the character of these volumes.

The charm of novelty, alas, can never be renewed, any more than the exquisite effect of • unexpectedness' in picturesque horticulture. We cannot have, every year, a new set of contributors,

The names of Miss Mitford, Mrs. Hemans, the Howitts, &c., will and must meet the eye, like the roses, carnations, or tulips, that must be put up with, year after year, in our parterres.

But we shall now proceed to shew, by our specimens, that the unwarrantable fastidiousness to which we have adverted, will not be justified by the average character of this year's Literary Annuals.

We begin with the Forget me Not, because Mr. Ackermann was the first to transplant this sort of annual into our literature. The Editor states, that he has been induced this year considerably to abridge the space allotted to poetry, in which department he has been deluged with contributions that could not possibly be admitted.' This we can easily imagine; and we commend the Editor's endeavours to improve the character of his work in this respect, for the poetry of the . Forget Me Not', has not heretofore been of the kind to be long remembered. In the present volume, however, there are some very pleasing poems,—two or three by the real Montgomery, of which we shall take the following.

birth;

"THE GENTIANELLA.

IN LEAF.
• Green thou art, obscurely green,
Meanest plant among the mean !
-From the dust I took my
Thou too art a child of earth.
I aspire not to be great ;
Scorn not thou

my

low estate :
Wait the time, and thou shalt see
Honour crown humility,-
Beauty set her seal on me.

In Flower.
Blue thou art, intensely blue !
Flower, whence came thy dazzling hue?
-When I opened first mine eye,
Upward glancing to the sky,
Straightway from the firmament,
Was the sapphire brilliance sent :
Brighter glory wouldst thou share?
Look to Heaven, and seek it there

In the act of faith and prayer.' The following touching verses are, we believe, from the vers. atile pen of the Author of · Tales of a Physician.'

MY MOTHER'S GRAVE. Supposed to be suggested to a repentant prodigal by the frontispicce

to the “ Forget me not” for 1827.

• By W. H. HARRISON, Esq. My mother's gruve! my mother's grave! what bitter thought it

brings ! And yet unto that bitter thought how fond affection clings ! Though since I saw thy resting place, long years have pass'd away, It seemeth to my aching heart a scene of yesterday. • I stood beside the hillock green,—the sun was sinking fast, And from the rudely sculptured stone a lengthened shade was cast ; And oh! to my prophetic eye that shadow seemed to spread Along the rugged path in life my feet were doomed to tread. Oh, I have wept for follies done, and deeds of darker dye, To be committed o'er again ere yet those tears were dry: I've wept o'er many a hope deferred ; and then, the boon obtain’d, Have mourned more bitterly the cost at which the prize was gain’d. • I've mourned the faithless and the frail, who smiled but to betray, But more the blind fatuity that made my heart their prey : Yet ne'er for ought I've lost or done, though sad the thought may be, My spirit weeps so bitterly as when I think of thee. “And well itself to deepest grief my spirit may resign, And sorrow for my destiny, but surely not for thine. It were a happier fate for thee, that death thine eyes should close, Than thou hadst lived to look upon my folly and my woes. • Thou knewst me but in childhood's day, when, if too wild and free, Thy voice could check my wayward steps, and charm me back to

thee. Thy heart had broken with that charm, for oh! what earthly power Could stay my mad and headlong course, in manhood’s fiercer hour! • I have been Passion's passive tool--a sear'd leaf on her tide, And borne upon its rapid course, from peace and virtue wide : Now whirling on some eddy's verge, now toss'd upon the wave, An idle, varying, restless thing, of every gust the slave. I would not thou hadst lived to see my madness and my shame; To sorrow o'er my ruin'd hopes and early blighted fame; To see thy first-born thus resign'd to guilt's remorseful stings, Of whom thy pure and trusting heart had augur'd holier things. • Oh, hear me! Thou whose words of might the raging waves control, And save me from that vortex dread, the Maelstrome of the soul ! A fearful doom! yet such, alas ! each child of passion finds, Who, launching on life's ocean, spreads his feelings to the winds.'

Among the prose contributions, there are two tales by the same ingenious writer; a humorous moral tale by Miss Jewsbury, entitled “The Boor of the Brocken'; an Indian Sketch,

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »